A rare National Gallery deaccession

June 7 2013

Image of A rare National Gallery deaccession

Picture: Christie's

A fascinating enamel by Henry Bone RA is being offered for sale at Christie's later this month (est. £80k-£120k), of Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne (National Gallery, London). The provenance reveals that Bone's copy after Titian was in fact once owned by the National Gallery, having been bought by them in 1971 for $8,000 but then sold just two years later, though the catalogue doesn't state why. 

Update - a reader has been sleuthing around in the National Gallery's online archive pages, and has found the story. The enamel was loaned to the National Gallery during the restoration of Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne in 1969. But the enamel was somehow damaged, and the Gallery was obliged to buy it. They then sold it on soon afterwards. From the NG archive:

Enamel after Titian by Henry Bone. Damage sustained on return from loan at the National Gallery, photographs and x-rays, correspondence with conservators and owners re cost of repair to be met by the National Gallery. Agreement made for work to be ceded to the National Gallery upon payment to owners. Correspondence with Christie’s re sale of enamel upon Department of Education and Science’s advice.

Curiously, this aspect of the Bone's history is not mentioned in the latest catalogue entry.

Update II - another reader writes, from Truro:

Henry Bone, that great Truronian, himself precipitated a catastrophic crash of a different nature with his masterpiece in 1811. 

 This was at the time the largest enamel ever painted and was viewed by 4000 people before the buyer, Mr Bowles,  took it away. He paid 2,200 guineas for it.

 Bone was paid a big fat cheque which he promptly cashed at Fauntleroys Bank so that he could impress his wife with a huge pile of money. The next day the bank collapsed.

Always so nice when extra information like this is sent in by readers - thanks!

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